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Best-fit considerations

  • Target group: mExtension can facilitate creation of scalable, replicable, and commercially sustainable advisory services for rural clients. Efforts should be made to target women to benefit from mobile technology. 
  • Innovations: Adapting services depending on client needs, preferences, and socio-economic conditions requires constant innovation. 
  • Ecological and institutional setting: While ICT infrastructure is needed for organisations, clients need to have access to mobile phones and network services to access the advisory services. 

Evidence of impact

Mobile-based advisory services have been found to have a positive impact across the globe. In countries like India, Niger, and Uganda, mobile phones have reduced producer price dispersion and ensured higher market participation by farmers. They have also helped to reduce wastage, increase the number of transactions, and reduce the costs of searching for markets and of transportation. Information accessed through mobile phones has strengthened local livelihoods and helped to preserve natural resources, and has also increased general awareness and networking opportunities. Also, targeted at women, mExtension can significantly improve their income and livelihood opportunities, as has been the case in Bangladesh. (14,15)
(14) Mittal, S. and Mehar, M. 2014. Socio-economic impact of mobile phone based agricultural extension. In: Saravanan, R. (ed.) Mobile phones for agricultural extension: Worldwide mAgri innovations and promise for future. New Delhi, India: New India Publishing Agency. 

(15) Dickert, M. 2011.  Mr Yunus, telephone ladies and the development jigsaw.

Potential scalability and issues of sustainability

Financial sustainability is a major issue in mExtension. While paid services are still subject to skeptic opinions, there is much evidence of mobile-based paid advisory services that are being subscribed to by large numbers of rural people in developing countries. Establishment costs do need to be externally funded, but at later stages a profit-oriented model has the advantages of being scalable, sustainable, and client need-based compared to services offered free of cost.